I didn’t get so many polygons or lines of code done in the last couple weeks due to the extreme summer heat, which I find quite distracting when you’re trying to concentrate. However there were a couple other things. I came up with another musical theme, bringing the number to three (Herd theme, Tribal theme and Scout’s theme.) I wrote two new cutscenes and modified a third one. Plus, I refined the story where it concerns the game’s three main characters. The relationships between characters should be pretty interesting now, especially compared to most other games.
Moving into Blender
Anyway, I also did some soul searching about how to go about things technically. This led to me exporting the temple map (which I might use for the playable prototype) into Blender (yup, the entire thing) so I can establish a more reasonable workflow. The type of detail I want to create (think post-Doom 3 games rather than Quake 1 / Quake 3) is just excruciatingly hard to do in BSP / brush based editors, so I’m doing what the game industry did a couple years back and moving a lot of the stuff into a 3D modeling suite. This is just the logical conclusion after years of creating increasingly detailed and spacious environments and struggling with BSP based editors and Quake based engines.
The plan is still to use Q3bsp / q3map2 and just compile the mesh objects into the resulting BSP. I anticipate the q3map2 compiler is going to hate me for this and go on strike, so I’m going to throw faster hardware and more RAM at it in the future.
Here’s the temple setpiece exported from Radiant, including the surrounding box which needs to remain BSP in order to seal the map. I took the entire thing into Blender and then broke the mesh up onto individual objects – buildings, skybox, terrain and so forth.
I duplicated the bottom plane of the surrounding box and started subdividing it to create terrain. The map used FTE’s heightmap terrain until now, which also consists of a shitload of polygons, so rendering should not be a problem.
I’m going for a terrain resolution of roughly 64 quake units. I couldn’t remember exactly what the heightmap uses, I think it might be 32 qu, but I can still throw a subdivision modifier on it later if necessary.
That… is a lot of polies, but from experience, this polycount should be absolutely fine.
Sculpting the terrain in Blender, first take. This is pretty rough of course, but not bad for a 30 minute job.
Closer look at how the terrain intersects with buildings and former brushwork. I think this resolution might be fine actually. I might add some extra rock models here and there. I used the red colour for sculpting because it makes it easier to see the shape.
View from the sea side into the temple valley.
I think this is a good way forward – Blender is just a lot more stress free to work with than Radiant.
An added benefit of putting the terrain through q3map2 is ambient occlusion, meshes casting shadows, and a general unified look to the map.
In short, for a big project, it makes sense to use the big hammer instead of the small one. Doing pretty much everything in Blender also gives the artist a lot more control and practically instant visual feedback.